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Five Canadians on the podium at the Pan-American Championships

Montréal, April 26, 2014 (Sportcom) – After watching five of their athletes narrowly miss out on the podium a day earlier, the Canadian judo contingent answered the bell on Saturday, winning five medals at the Pan-American Championships being presented in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Kelita Zupancic (-70 kg), Catherine Roberge (-78 kg) and Antoine Valois-Fortier (-81 kg) all came away with silver medals, while Ana Lara Portuondo-Isasi (-78 kg) and Dilyaver Sheykhilyamov (-100 kg) won bronzes.

Monika Burgess (2-2) finished 5th in the -70 kg class, Martin Rygielski (+100 kg, 1-2) placed 7th and Louis Krieber-Gagnon (-81 kg, 1-1) came in 9th. Béatrice Valois-Fortier (-63 kg), Brandon Jobb (-90 kg) and Ignacio Rodriguez (+100 kg) all lost in their opening round matches and did not receive a classification.

Antoine Valois-Fortier, a bronze medalist at the London Games, was defeated in the gold medal finale by the Brazilian Victor Penalber who won by an ippon halfway through the bout.

“I initiated the attack and got countered in the process. It happens to me on occasion, but it’s rare that I get caught out like that,” explained Valois-Fortier. “Even though I finished in second place, I need to realize that it wasn’t one of my best outings. It’s safe to say that I wasn’t really feeling it today. On the flip side, I’m happy to see that even when I’m not at my best I’m still able to find my way onto the podium.”

Also in contention for a gold medal, Kelita Zupancic succumbed to defeat against the defending World Champion, the Colombian Yuri Alvear. As for Catherine Roberge, she would fall to the Cuban Yalennis Castillo in what was described by Canadian coach Nicolas Gill as an extremely close fight.

“Catherine lost by just a shido. Castillo is an ex-Olympic Silver medalist (Beijing) who has recently come back to competition after being out on maternity leave. These girls have faced each other on many occasions, and today, there was very little between them.”

“This weekend’s results mirrored our efforts in recent years down here,” the coach continued. “Obviously, we would have liked to have had one of Saturday’s gold medal matches go our way.  Still, the results obtained by Kelita, Catherine and Antoine boosted them into the top 8 in the overall standings, which means that all three of them will be top seeds in the upcoming World Championships.”


Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada